Questions? Write Me at

Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Spring Planting! Go vertical!!!

Planted May 19, 2011

Oh the joy of digging your fingers into deep, dark, rich soil and dropping a seed or two into the hole knowing that in a few short weeks will be producing juicy tidbits for your table!  Today I had that distinct please as I planted my garden.

I also had the distinct pleasure of knowing that I had started all but two of the plants I put into my garden.  In January, I began the 2011 journey of gardening by inventorying my seeds and deciding what I wanted to plant.  Then in February I began starting seedlings in anticipation of this day.  I am not completely happy with how my seedlings did this year.  The tomatoes are small yet and the peppers just past the first leaf stage this week. :(  I did plant the tomatoes, but the pepper are still in the greenhouse.  I have been letting the temps get up to 98F in there during the hot part of the day and they have started to really take off.  I'm hoping that it will stay warmer in there over this upcoming rainy spell & they will be encouraged to a size big enough to plant and get produce from before fall frost!  (If not, I'll be knocking on your door for a couple since you started yours with me right?!? ;P)

You will notice lots of structures in my garden.  A couple of years ago I realized that I was missing out on using a huge chunk of space in my garden by not using the vertical space.  Last year I took the leap and made myself some structures to start using that vertical space more efficiently.
Mini-Pumpkin Trellis

Today, I planted mini boo & jack-be-little by the 6ft tall A-frame.  Last year they shot right up the side and I thought they'd go for the stars!  Instead, after reaching up a couple of feet beyond the top, they started down the other side.  (These little pumpkins were so much fun in the fall for the kids to paint and I was still able to cook them for pies!)
Cucumber Trellis
 I used an old crib railing I was given to trellis my bush cucumbers.  Last year, the crib railing was the perfect height for the plants and the cucumbers hung down through the railings so they were really easy to find.  I was so happy with both of these vertical structures and would wholeheartedly recommend something like them to anyone wanting to move into the vertical spaces of their garden!
Notice the ice cream buckets with netting over them under the trellises?  This is something new I'm trying this year.  I have been plagued with squash borers the last couple of years.  They are the larvae of a moth that lays it's eggs at the soil line on vining plants early in the spring.  After they hatch, the larvae borrow into the stem and eat it from the inside out.  For two years in a row now, they have killed my bush buttercup squash and left their mark on the rest of my vines.  I'm ready to put a stop to them!  My Dad read about using a tunnel he called a cloche and netting to stop moths from getting to plants, so last fall he and my husband made a couple of tunnels so I could try this out.  I really hope it works... I'll let you know in a couple of months.
squash cloche covered with bird netting
I am also planning on using the tunnel as a trellis after the plants are well established.  I'll stake it up on it's short side and let the buttercup squash climb it.  I was just reading this week on a National Gardening Association facebook post that you can support heavy produce with a sling made of panty hose or t-shirt, so I thought I'd give a more weighty crop the trellis treatment this year.  I also planted some jack-o-lantern pumpkin seeds that I got from the Seeds of Change organic seed deal that was available in March.  I plan on making a trellis for that to go vertical as well!  Are you seeing that you can put so many more plants in your garden when you use your vertical space?!?!

A cloche is technically a bell-shaped greenhouse placed over a plant to protect it from the elements according to an article on the National Gardening Association's website.  I employed this concept using milk, juice and soda bottles to cover my small tomatoes today.  I'm hoping that this will keep them a little warmer and encourage them to grow quicker.  I just removed the lids for ventilation, cut the bottoms off and slid them down over my poor little tomatoes.

My tomato cages are new this year.  They are another brain-child of my Dad.  I have complained since I began my own garden that I couldn't find a study tomato cage; one that wouldn't collapse under the weight of plants heavy with tomatoes.  Mom and Dad had made the above mentioned tunnel cloche and this tomato cage as part of their arsenal to keep deer and turkey out of their garden.  Mom was happy with her cages and said that she had at least one plant come out the top of the cage!  I placed the cages in clusters of 3 hoping they will support each other, but I remain a little nervous about the stability of the cages.  I guess time will tell!  The cages have a 2ft diameter and so I took a chance & planted 2 plants in each one.  I suspect that I will have a tangled jungle on my hands this fall!  Again, time will tell.

I told you that I was able to attend a gardening day a couple of months ago and was excited to implement some of what I learned in my garden this year.  I was encourage to continue my utilization of the vertical space, but I also was introduced to the concept of square foot gardening.  I implemented that concept with a number of my smaller crops and will share more about that soon in another post.

I hope you were able to play in the dirt today, especially if you're expecting rain like we are tomorrow!  I certainly enjoyed my day. :D

Happy OUTDOOR Gardening! :D

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